Security for the fiscal year 2020-2021 Preston County Schools’ budget rests partly on COVID-19.
The Preston Board of Education approved the tentative budget Tuesday.
The $45,712,209 budget includes about $477,000 in COVID-19 related expenses the county hopes to have reimbursed, Preston Schools Treasurer Katrina Kerstetter said.
“Until we get that reimbursement number, I can’t really tell you how we’re going to be sitting,” Kerstetter said.
“Part of the problem is what will next year look like?” Preston Superintendent Steve Wotring said. “It’s just very difficult to plan for next year, if we don’t know what it will be.”
The budget has a slightly lower carryover than prior years, $930,000, Kerstetter said. Generally it’s about $1 million.
Energy lease payments will be paid off during the fiscal year, she noted, which helped in balancing the budget.
And the board has its reserve fund, Kerstetter noted. The budget also doesn’t include any savings the county may garner by refinancing bonds, as it decided to do earlier this year.
County taxes account for $12,463,904 in the budget. Of that, the regular levy provides $8,015,822 and the special levy $4,448,082. State aid provides 70% of the budget, $31,957,212, and federal sources account for $76,000.
The largest expenditures — more than 50% — are for salaries, employee benefits and fixed costs.
“All I can say is if it’s a mild expense, we’re covered,” Kerstetter said.
How do you prepare, asked Board President Jack Keim.
The state has formed a task force to consider when schools will resume in the fall and in what fashion they will resume. The task force is to issue its first reports June 8. The board meets that day, and Wotring said he will report on the task force’s findings.
But, he said, he thinks what happens with virus infection numbers across the nation will influence decisions in West Virginia.
“It’s very difficult at this point to say what school’s going to look like. We all feel 100% confident that it’s not going to feel normal,” Wotring said.
The budget can be seen online at prestoncountyschools.com. A rundown of all levy expenditures will be provided in the fall edition of the county school’s magazine and online.